National Guard is new gay rights battleground as four states refuse to handle federal
The National Guard is quietly emerging as a gay rights battleground.
Oklahoma became the fourth state this month to refuse to order its National Guard to process federal benefits applications for same-sex couples, joining Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi in setting up a potential conflict with the Obama administration and gay rights advocates.
National Guard units have a unique status, existing under the authority of their respective states and the federal government.The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Military Partners Association, a gay service members group, launched apetition last week calling on the Pentagon to “put these states in line and enforce equal access to benefits for all military families nationwide.”
But the four state National Guards say their state constitutions, all of which define marriage as a union only between a man and a woman, conflict with a new Pentagon rule requiring the military to treat married couples equally.
A host of other states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage — including Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia — have said they will process the federal benefits, raising a question about whether the other four states’ policies are more a matter of discretion than legal obligation.
IMO this is pathetic, denying these benefits is a disgrace, at lease Lt. COl Hilbrecht gets it above but some other states want to play a false game of politics instead of caring about the troops.
“They’re service members applying for benefits, so we give them to them,” said Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht, a spokesman for the Kentucky National Guard.
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